Originally published Feb. 26, 2018 in the Richmond & Twickenham Times.
By Ciara Cannell, Ursuline High School
‘Intensive exercise improves the academic performance of teenagers, according to new research’ says the BBC, which is only one advantage of sport. The release of serotonin regulates mood and sleep patterns which is beneficial to a child’s life inside and outside of school.
The British Heart Foundation stated nearly a third of children in Britain are overweight or obese, yet 79 percent of parents with an overweight child do not recognise that they are. Attitudes towards sports in schools may need to change, or future generations could suffer the consequences.
The government laid out a briefing in 2014 to encourage more sports in schools as there is a proven link between pupil health and wellbeing and attainment. A report on children’s health by the chief medical officer of England highlighted that: “promoting physical and mental health in schools creates a virtuous circle reinforcing children’s attainment and achievement that in turn improves their wellbeing, enabling children to thrive and achieve their full potential.”
DfE research also found that pupils with better attention skills also make more progress across the four key stages. For example, pupils with no attention problems at age 13 had a total value-added GCSE score that was equivalent to more than one extra GCSE at grade A* (63.38 points higher).
The government is putting more focus on competition and physical activity in the face of the growing concerns of obesity. There are also more government funded programmes such as Merton school sport partnership enhancing sporting opportunities for young people across London.
This allows children to reach their full potential in school and learn social and emotional skills that have a positive impact on not just their attainment, but the person they become as they grow up.